9 Free Extensions That I Use In My Daily SEO and Analytics Workflow
In no particular order, here are my favorite SEO extensions for Chrome (by the way some of them are available for Firefox as well). The extensions are all free to use, and support me a lot in my daily workflow as a web developer.
Web Developer Toolbar Extension
This is a classic one - the "must have"
The first version was published in 2003 and I am using it ever since. It has an extensive list of useful website-related infos. When I look at its first release, there were some html/css validation checkup-, hiding images- and even automatic window resizing-options; and that long before responsive web design and semantic markup became popular. This is what I call vision!
The Web Developer extension was first released in Firefox, but later came to Chrome as well. I remember it was called 'Web Developer Toolbar' back then; because there were toolbars for browsers, not extensions.
Besides that, you can easily clear your cookies or look for session information with this extension. In fact, I used to use this tool especially for the above mentioned things - but now I prefer others, more complex and pricy tools to do these kind of jobs.
The information section in this extension gives you lots of semantic HTML info. My favorite bonus feature however, is in the miscellaneous section; Displaying Line Guides and Rulers - really a lifesaver for any web developer! Overall this extension is just great for web developers, web designers, SEO auditors, UX designers, UI experts .. the list goes on.
To sum up; it's a fundamental extension that you definitely have to have in your browser.
If you don't have it NOW is a good time to do so!
META SEO Inspector Extension
If you are doing a quick SEO audit, you probably already have an extension for a quick check-up. For many years there hasn't been a shortage of SEO extensions in the market, and from time to time I even test some of them. However, when I use other extensions I always find some bugs, UX problem or slowness of the extension, which results in me going straight back to the Meta SEO Inspector extension.
The main reason that I use this extension is that it's fast. There are no extra small time lags when looking up simple things like page title or meta description. It gives very basic info - which is just what I need, when making a quick SEO audit. For the more comprehensive SEO audits, you may use SEO crawler tools but when a quick question comes to you, this extension gives you the answers within a second.
Bonus feature: This extension has an online tools tab which redirects you directly to the page of other online SEO tools - just for your own convenience. I never used it, but you can check it out.
Redirect Path Extension
Webpage redirects are one of the major issues in SEO technical audits. Yes, you can look for page redirects with the browsers builtin inspector tools, but most of the time it's easier to just click on an extension and see the redirect chain in a more visual way.
Ayima's Redirect Path extension is my favorite page redirect explorer tool. One of the main reasons is that it visually shows all redirects, and gives no extra information like header info, server info, etc. Again for quick lookups, this tool is a winner - I can easily say that this is my most recommended extension for clients.
Clear visualization + no extra info.
Google Lighthouse Extension
Rather than copy/pasting the Google PageSpeed online tool to your address bar, Google's Lighthouse extension can give you an all-in-one report about SEO (a Google tool that gives SEO suggestions, wow!), performance, accessibility and best practices for the website.
Google's standards are a bit high for website owners; the issues in this report may be a bit overwhelming for you or your client's website, so see it as a starting point to improve the overall user experience of the website. At the end of the day, Google wants its users to be happy and therefore suggests some improvements - just keep in mind that these do not directly affect your rankings, in Google's words: "These checks ensure that your page is optimized for search engine results ranking. There are additional factors Lighthouse does not check that may affect your search ranking."
A useful SEO audit starter, but not comprehensive. Good to have.
User-Agent Switcher for Google Chrome Extension
After Google shifted to mobile first index, the mobile website became more and more important. As SEO technics, changing browser user-agent in your desktop browser became crucial.
Some websites have still different mobile versions compared to desktop - which is OK from Google's point of view. In order to understand how the mobile website works and functions, you sometimes need to change your browser user agent in order to understand how a user experiences the mobile version of your website.
There are tons of user agent switchers in the Chrome extension store - and believe me, I tested most of them, but User-Agent Switcher for Google Chrome is the one I always come back to. Easy to use and bug free work are the main reasons that I choose this extension.
You can easily clear cookies and sessions from your browser; built-in browser inspectors, browser functionalities for privacy, and even the first web developer extension I mentioned in this post can clear cookies - so, why would you need one?
Because it's handy. The EditThisCookie extension lets you easily clear both cookies and session info from your browser with just one click.
It also gives a good view of the active sessions and cookies info - in case you want to check them for analytics purposes. Clearing cookie and sessions while doing a webpage SEO audit is another thing to consider.
Google Analytics Debugger (Analytics)
When doing an Analytics checkup, you need to see how page hits go to the Google servers. With the help of the Analytics Debugger extension from Google, you can easily find out whats going on behind the scenes.
This extension works in conjunction with the Chrome Developer Inspector, so you would need to open the inspector panel to see how and which page hits as well as other info goes to the Google Analytics servers.
I used this extension a lot in the past, but there are better alternatives and better visualizers of the Analytics code checkup in browsers available now. Yes, you should also have the Google Tag Assistant for tag manager and tag checkup, but with this extension it is better to check from both tools - Analytics data is important to us, so don't rely on just one tool.
Here comes my last extension recommendation:
GTM/GA Debug Extension (Analytics)
The Analytics and tag manager extension gives all analytics tag related information in a very clear and simple way - BUT, I recently discovered GTM/GA Debug extension and I really like it.
The main reason why I like this Google Analytics extension is because of the way the information is organized in the Inspector. All of the complexity of DataLayer, hit types and different GTM implementations are gone in this extension. If you really want to go deeper into the hit or DataLayer info, you simply click and get more elaborated info. Also the different property views are just great for dissecting complex analytics setups.
A must-have for Analytics consultants.
And before ending my post, I should mention that a blog post is not a blog, without a bonus suggestion:
Bonus: WASP.inspector: Analytics Solution Profiler (Analytics)
The extension called WASP.inspector looks like an analytics and tag profile checker tool - but there is more to it. You can, for example, see how session state and other tags work while browsing the whole website.
A simple, but overlooked feature is that it can show you how many 3rd party tracking codes are working on the website. This one is also important for SEO, as lots of tracking codes mean lots of HTTP request hence slower webpage load - a killer feature for showing your client how many tags are actively used in the website, and what potential risks (security, page speed, privacy) it might bring along when you continue to use these many 3rd party tracking scripts.
Tools and Extensions Are Starters, Not Your Finish Line
As the digital market matures, a lot of free and paid tools became available to us.
These tools are just simple task helpers. You can integrate these extensions in your workflow, but remember; they are only just starters. They give you directions, but not the answers. Your overall auditing framework should require more thinking and insights - more than just these tools can show.
* Did I miss an important extension? Comment below so that we can get to know (and test) even more great alternatives.
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